Reconsidering American Liberalism / Edition 1

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Forty years ago Louis Hartz surveyed American political thought in his classic The Liberal Tradition in America. He concluded that American politics was based on a broad liberal consensus made possible by a unique American historical experience, a thesis that seemed to minimize the role of political conflict.Today, with conflict on the rise and with much of liberalism in disarray, James P. Young revisits these questions to reevaluate Hartz’s interpretation of American politics. Young’s treatment of key movements in our history, especially Puritanism and republicanism’s early contribution to the Revolution and the Constitution, demonstrates in the spirit of Dewey and others that the liberal tradition is richer and more complex than Hartz and most contemporary theorists have allowed.The breadth of Young’s account is unrivaled. Reconsidering American Liberalism gives voice not just to Locke, Jefferson, Hamilton, Madison, Lincoln, and Dewey but also to Rawls, Shklar, Kateb, Wolin, and Walzer. In addition to broad discussions of all the major figures in over 300 years of political thought—with Lincoln looming particularly large—Young touches upon modern feminism and conservatism, multiculturalism, postmodernism, rights-based liberalism, and social democracy. Out of these contemporary materials Young synthesizes a new position, a smarter and tougher liberalism not just forged from historical materials but reshaped in the rough and tumble of contemporary thought and politics.This exceptionally timely study is both a powerful survey of the whole of U.S. political thought and a trenchant critique of contemporary political debates. At a time of acrimony and confusion in our national politics, Young enables us to see that salvaging a viable future depends upon our understanding how we have reached this point.Never without his own opinions, Young is scrupulously fair to the widest range of thinkers and marvelously clear in getting to the heart of their ideas. Although his book is a substantial contribution to political theory and the history of ideas, it is always accessible and lively enough for the informed general reader. It is essential reading for anyone who cares about the future of U.S. political thought or, indeed, about the future of the country itself.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813306483
  • Publisher: Westview Press
  • Publication date: 3/1/1996
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 456
  • Lexile: 1500L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 1.02 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 9.00 (d)

Meet the Author

James P. Young is professor emeritus of political science at Binghamton University in Binghamton, New York and now an independent scholar working in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He is the author of The Politics of Affluence and editor of Consensus and Conflict: Readings in American Politics. He is the author of many articles and reviews in both professional journals and popular journals of opinion on political theory and thought.
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Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgments
Introduction: The Role of Liberalism in American Politics 1
1 The Ambiguous Legacy of Puritanism 13
Puritan Doctrine 13
Some Consequences of Puritanism 16
2 John Locke and the Theory of Liberal Constitutionalism 23
The Theory Outlined 24
The Individual in Society 25
Property and the Economy 27
Society Government, and the Theory of Consent 32
3 Liberalism, Republicanism, and Revolution 41
Liberalism and Revolution 43
The Republican Correction 46
4 Liberalism, Republicanism, and the Constitution 55
The Two American Constitutions 56
The Federalist and the Defense of the Constitution 58
Hamilton, Madison, and the Ambiguities of The Federalist 64
The Response of the Anti-Federalist Opposition 66
5 Defining the Constitutional Text and the Emergence of Party Politics 73
Franklin, Adams, Paine, and the Ambiguities of Transition 73
Hamilton, Jefferson, and the Emergence of Party Politics 77
The Hamiltonian Theory 77
The Jeffersonian Theory 81
6 Some Notes on Jacksonian Democracy 93
The Jacksonian Ideology 93
Industrialism and the Ideology of Work 96
Reflections on the Whig Opposition 98
Coda: Tocqueville on American Democracy 99
7 Abolition and the Crisis of Liberalism 107
Slavery in the Constitution 107
Calhoun, Fitzhugh, and the Attempt to Legitimate Slavery 109
Ideas and Tactics in the Antislavery Movement 114
8 Laissez-Faire Conservatism and the Legitimation of Corporate Capitalism 127
Laissez-Faire, Conservative Darwinism, and the New Legitimacy 129
The Impact of Laissez-Faire Conservatism 134
9 The Dilemmas of Populist Reform 137
The Enigma of Populism 138
10 The Problem of Progressivism 149
The New Nationalism 152
The New Freedom 155
Some Preliminary Conclusions 158
Coda: John Dewey and the Philosophy of Progressivism 161
11 The New Deal and the Apotheosis of Reform 169
The Two New Deals 172
The Legacy of the New Deal 176
12 Liberalism in Search of New Directions 181
Social Science as Liberal Ideology 186
Stirrings of Discontent 192
The New Left: Corporate Liberalism and Participatory Democracy 197
13 Race, Gender, Difference, and Equality 203
The Problem of Racial Equality 203
The Feminist Challenge to Liberalism 216
Liberalism, Postmodernism, and Multiculturalism 222
14 Liberalism in Retreat: The Conservative Critique 235
Conservatism as a Movement 236
A Typology of Conservatives 238
Straussian Conservatism and American Politics 255
15 Rights-Based Liberalism 269
Rights in Contemporary Liberalism 270
Rights Theory After Rawls 280
16 Problems of Liberalism: Rights, Economy, Community, and the State 287
The Communitarian Critique of Liberalism 287
Democratic Populism as a Critique of Liberalism 294
Social Democracy and the Liberal Tradition 307
17 Conclusion 327
Notes 343
About the Book and Author 421
Index 423
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